Gary McKinnon  (Source: AP)
A Scottish hacker moves one step closer to extradition to the United States, despite numerous pleas from human rights experts

Even though the British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has not charged NASA hacker Gary McKinnon, he still faces the threat of being extradited to face charges in the United States.  Now that the CPS has formally declined to press charges, the likelihood he'll be extradited to the U.S. has greatly increased, legal experts said.

"We identified nine occasions where Mr. McKinnon has admitted to activity which would amount to an offense under Section 2 of the Computer Misuse Act (unauthorized access with intent)," CPS Organized Crime Division head Alison Saunders said in a statement.  "Although there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr. McKinnon for these offenses, the evidence we have does not come near to reflecting the criminality that is alleged by the American authorities."

The case has drawn a large amount of interest from both sides of the pond, with human rights campaigner Terry Waite recently calling for the U.S. to drop all charges against the Briton.

Waite reportedly called McKinnon's actions "harmless" and claimed "common sense" was needed for a fair outcome.  The hacker has Asperger's Syndrome, a specialized form of autism, which is extremely difficult to treat.  Furthermore, experts say prison life would be even more difficult for McKinnon, and his condition could worsen if he were to serve federal time.

McKinnon openly admits to hacking numerous federal governments owned by the U.S. government, including the Pentagon and NASA during a one-year span from 2001 to 2002.  He allegedly caused more than $700,000 in damages when he caused 2,000 systems to be knocked offline while he accessed computer networks used by the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Army, the U.S. federal government said.

If extradited to the U.S. and found guilty, he faces up to 70 years in prison for his computer crimes.

The Scotsman said he was looking for evidence that the U.S. government was secretly hiding evidence of possible UFOs, and was simply looking to reveal the evidence.

McKinnon's lawyer, when the possibility of extradition was brought up, claimed human rights issues, as he was afraid his client could possibly be sent to Guantanamo Bay.  However, with a new administration in the White House, and President Barack Obama ready to close the infamous military prison camp, it's more likely McKinnon would serve time in a regular federal prison.

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